Class texts for Lower Secondary – Part 2

Following on from part 1 yesterday, here are some more suggestions for lower secondary.

Captain Cook’s Apprentice

‘What are they saying?’ Isaac asked Taiata.
‘They are calling us tupua. . . goblins and demons.’
‘And what else?’
‘They say they will come back and kill us all.’

When young Isaac Manley sailed on the Endeavour fromEnglandin 1768, no one on board knew if a mysterious southern continent existed in the vastPacific Ocean. It would be a voyage full of uncertainties and terrors.

During the course of the three-year journey, Isaac’s eyes are opened to all the brutal realities of life at sea – floggings, storms, press-gangs, the deaths of fellow crewmen, and violent clashes on distant shores.

Yet Isaac also experiences the tropical beauty ofTahiti, where he becomes friends with a Tahitian girl. He sees the wonders ofNew Zealand. And he is there when the men of Endeavour first glimpse the east coast ofAustralia, anchor in Botany Bay, and run aground on theGreat Barrier Reef.

The enthralling true story of Captain Cook’s voyage toAustraliaon the Endeavour, seen through the eager eyes of a cabin boy, by best-selling and award-winning author Anthony Hill.

Themes: Australian history, adventure, loyalty, responsibility, naval life, colonialism, growing up.

Recommended for: lower secondary, class text, great for boys.

Read an extract

Teachers’ notes

Unit of work

Year of the Tiger

On the edge of the Han Empire, the Great Wall is crumbling. And, on the other side,China’s enemies are gathering strength.

In the shadow of the wall, two very different boys – Hu and Ren – are thrown together, hoping to win an archery contest. But in the year of the Tiger trouble stalks them … When everything goes wrong, can Hu and Ren work together to save the town and the empire from destruction?

A thrilling story – full of action and adventure – set during one of the most fascinating and dramatic periods in history.

Themes: AncientChina friendship, class, family, betrayal, trust, father-son relationships, honour, duty.

Recommended for: lower secondary, class text.

Read an extract

Teachers’ notes

Unit of work

Black Dog Gang

With our bags full of rats, the five of us began walking towards the line. We’d gone only a few yards when a voice sounded off to our left.

‘What ‘ave we ‘ere, then?’ it said.

We turned our heads and say Bluey Lonnegan lifting himself up off a sandstone wall.

‘You’re lookin’ at the Black Dog Gang,’ said Mickey.

‘No doubt ya heard a us?’

Themes: Australian history, the Plague, domestic violence, poverty, courage, love, family.

Recommended for: lower secondary, or low level middle secondary students.

Read an extract

Teachers’ notes

Unit of work

Born to Run

Hi guys,

Ever since I was little I only had one dream – to win a gold medal at the Olympics.

When I was twenty-seven years old, my dream came true. I’ll never forget that night at the Sydney 2000 Games – as I crossed the finish line, it was as if the whole ofAustraliawas cheering for me.

Sometimes I still wonder how it happened. When I was growing up, I felt no different to anyone else. I loved having fun with my brothers, sleeping over at nanna’s and going horse riding with my dad. But I especially loved to run. With the help of my family, coaches and teachers, I became the best female 400-metre runner in the world.

I hope you enjoy my story, and that it inspires you to chase after your dreams too!

Themes: identity, growing up, determination, the stolen generation, prejudice, Indigenous issues.

Recommended for: lower secondary, low level readers.

Read an extract

Teachers’ notes

Unit of work

Camel Rider

Adam and his family live in a compound with other foreigners who work in theMiddle East. He’s got everything he wants, everything he needs, and there’s a lot he takes for granted.

Then war breaks out, and, in the confusion to escape, Adam runs away. It seems like the only thing to do, but when he finds himself alone and friendless in the desert, Adam knows he’s in real danger.

But then he meets Walid, the camel rider . . .

Themes: survival, trust, friendship, war, adventure, cultural differences, overcoming stereotypes.

Recommended for: lower secondary, mixed ability, reluctant readers.

Teachers’ notes

Unit of work


Once I escaped from an orphanage to find my Mum and Dad.

Once I saved a girl called Zelda from a burning house.

Once I made a Nazi with toothache laugh.

My name is Felix.

This is my story.

Themes: WWII, family, courage, persecution, trust, danger, loss, friendship.

Recommended for: lower secondary, low level readers.

Read an extract

Teachers’ notes

Falling from Grace

Kip, Annie, Grace, David, Ted. Five different people, one terrible night.

There’s a storm at Point Nepean, and the ocean has swept into the bay. Kip is in the wrong place at the wrong time. Annie is scared. David is looking. And Grace is gone.

Enter Ted – with his vintage guitars and wild ideas, he’s unlike anyone Kip has ever met. As each day passes and a search is mounted, Kip cannot help asking questions – of himself, of the people around him, of everything that happened on the night of the storm. But the biggest questions facing Kip are: Where is Grace?

And who is Ted?

Themes: prejudice, assumptions, family tragedy, trust, mystery.

Recommended for: lower to middle secondary, mixed ability, co-ed classes, reluctant readers.

Read an extract

Teachers’ notes

Unit of work

This entry was posted in Asia, Death and Bereavement, Environment, Family, Historical, Indigenous, Relationships, Resources, Themes. Bookmark the permalink.

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